New 52 – Batwoman #3 review

The best artwork and paneling in the new 52, or most likely from any comic publisher, honestly. And when it comes to strong female characters it really doesn’t get much better. My long-running problem with Batwoman has always been the way this title focuses on the mystical side of Gotham, a side of Gotham that usually comes from really terrible stories. And I understand that these battles with ghosts and goblins may be seen as what this title needs to set itself apart, but I don’t think that this book’s strength lies in its attempts at horror and fantasy. If anything, it does a poor job balancing its desire to be a spooktacular adventure and a romance. The writing seems like it should be capable of handling both tasks, but for issue #2 & #3 this weeping ghost thing has definitely been tossed on the backburner and I’m ready for that to be wrapped up.

At the end of the last issue the tide came in and the weeping ghost, which has some eerie connection with water, came with it and consumed Batwoman. Quite the cliffhanger, sure. But in the opening pages of Batwoman #3, through strength of spirit or a few good punches (yep, she punches a ghost) Batwoman broke free and ended up on land. It wasn’t exciting, but it sure was pretty…and that seems to be the way of things for any Batwoman action scene. Non-events done just to remind folks that it’s still an action comic when really it doesn’t want to be. The true heart of a Batwoman comic comes from the ample moments that take place outside of the costume. Everything else is distracting, quite frankly. There’s more drama in Kate Kane standing up her date than being drowned by a child-thieving water-ghost and that’s saying something. The interactions between Kate, her cousin, her girlfriend and the agent hunting her are far more rewarding than any of these splash page fight scenes with mythical creatures and phantasms. This is a cast of characters that doesn’t need ghostly gimmicks to add validity to its existence as a mainstream comic book. So I say just stop it. Instead of shoehorning in these fantasy elements, J.H. Williams III needs to do what he does best and that’s clearly the personal side of things.

How many comics do we have that take a good hard look at how difficult it is to live a double life? How troublesome it must be to balance a love life or a JOB when you’re constantly paranoid about your secret identity, the enemies you’ve made or the injuries you sustained after the sun went down. The Batman & Robin series tries to touch upon the struggles to keep a partnership intact, but there’s too much expectation from a title with that name—there’s a demand for action. Not with Batwoman. Instead, this could be a quieter piece. The action could come from the cat and mouse game Batwoman has to play with the DEO agent and the bulk of the story would be about her maintaining a relationship between friends, family, and a lover while being a crime fighter. What are your thoughts on this? Am I alone here?

Anyway, I enjoyed this issue more than the last two. The art, as always in the best in comics and it’s packed with characters you care about. If it would only fix its problems with the action side of things, I’d like it much, much more. In issue #3 you see a Kate Kane whose relationships are under immense strain, some of which may have even broken entirely. If you’ve enjoyed the previous 2 installments from this series, you’re sure to enjoy this one. I wasn’t really a fan of the last two issues, but I found myself having a good time here. And did I mention the art is gorgeous? It’s really not fair to other artists how high Williams is setting the bar.

SCORE: 7.5/10